Irish film documented anti-Chávez coup
Venezuela's president and then presidential candidate Hugo Chavez speaks in the rain during his closing campaign rally in Caracas last October. Mr Chavez died last night after a two-year battle with cancer. Photograph/Jorge Silva/Reuters
A failed coup attempt against the late Hugo Chávez was the subject of award-winning Irish documentary, Chávez - Inside the Coup, which recorded the pivotal moments of a 2002 attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan president and dissolve the country’s democratic institutions.
The film crew, who happened to be filming inside the presidential palace on the morning of the coup on April 11th, 2002, documented a series of events that defined the short-lived April 2002 coup attempt by the Venezuelan opposition who were allied with dissident members of the military and supported by some of the country’s privately-owned media channels.
The Chávez documentary was produced by the Irish company, Power Pictures, in association with the Irish Film Board. It was directed by Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain, and was broadcast as part of the True Lives series on RTÉ in 2003.
The crew witnessed the moment when the opposition took control and afraid their film would be taken from them, they buried the footage in a safe location, and subsequently made for the airport. They were convinced to return when they met waves of Chávez supporters as they tried to make their way out of the city.
The crew returned and went on to film the apparently victorious coup leaders as they moved to dismantle the apparatus of the state.
The victory was short-lived however as president Chávez's supporters surrounded the palace and loyal army units secured the safe return of the kidnapped leader on April 14th.
The documentary film received two prizes the following year, including the award for outstanding international television production of the year, at the Banff Television Festival in Alberta, Canada, one of the world's most prestigious television events.
It won the Global Television Grand Prize for best production and the award for Best Information and Current Affairs Production.